OK, I have the worst thing to admit: I am not very familiar with the work of Ray Bradbury. I read Fahrenheit 451 in High School, and that is it. I know, bad, bad Jen. So to rectify this situation I read my first non-required Bradbury story called The Halloween Tree!(exclamation added by me.) The Halloween Tree tells the story of young Tom Skelton and his seven friends who go out Trick or Treating on Halloween night. They were expecting their good friend "Pipkin" to join them but he tells them he will meet them later. The boys end up at the local haunted house (as you do) and there they meet the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud and gaze in wonderment at the "Halloween Tree" in the front yard. Moundshroud explains to the boys the meaning of the Halloween Tree and then proceeds to take them on a magical journey through time and space to learn about the orgins of the holiday and to find their missing friend Pipkin. They travel to ancient Egypt and Rome, Pagan England and Ireland, and finally end up in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebrations.
Yes, dammit, you learn stuff reading this book! But don't let that scare you off! The story, which is really about friendship and the sacrifices you are willing to make for those you love, is really wonderful. And the visuals that Bradbury paints are extraordinary. I can see why families would make this required reading every Halloween (along, with may I suggest and I will, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.) Rumor has it that there is an animated film floating around out there narrated by Bradbury himself!! I must find it. I can't find it playing on TV any time this month. You know what else I can't find playing on TV? The Charlie Brown Pumpkin business. I am starting to freak out that I missed it- and now I have to go buy it!! I am almost out of Halloween money!!